Like The Bear? Love agencies

A photo of a chef's hands putting the finishing touches to a dish which is largely made up of mushrooms, and sits on a decorative piece of tree trunk.

Like The Bear? Love agencies





Like The Bear? Love agencies


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

I wasn’t alone in loving the first two seasons of The Bear, which follows the highly strung family and wider team that run the titular Chicago restaurant (spoiler: there are no bears). With an incredible ensemble cast, it might have been the best comedy-drama of the last two years – and I’m a massive Succession fan, so that’s saying something.

Why am I talking about this on a blog that is mainly about content issues in B2B tech marketing? Because there’s a lot in common between a restaurant and an agency. But don’t go thinking I mean the constant shouting and PTSD that seems to be the default setting in The Bear.

People make lots of comparisons between certain types of businesses and agencies. I’ve heard analogies about hotels, airlines and others. But I think restaurants are the best.

When you walk into a restaurant, you’re usually welcomed by someone who will take care of you (a host, maitre d’ or some other version of this, depending on how posh it is). They’ll hand you over to waiting staff, who take care of you until the end of your meal.

This is front of house. The agency equivalent is account management.

Meanwhile, your food is prepared by a multi-skilled team back in the kitchen. There’s a head chef and a whole team of other kitchen mainstays. They’re qualified, practical and – on a good day – creative.

This is back of house. They’re like a production or operations team – including project manager(s) and, to use Collective Content as an example, writers, editors, designers and more.

Above and beyond

Something that great restaurants and agencies have in common is that front and back of house work in harmony.

There’s also a respect that the customer’s interaction is with the waiter (account manager) or their boss (client services director), for certain conversations/escalation.

Does this mean a restaurant customer never interacts with those back of house? There are occasions when this happens.

Whether for good (compliments) or bad (complaint) reasons, a customer might meet the chef.

Or in certain circumstances a customer is invited back of house – maybe for a kitchen tour or if they book a ‘chef’s table’, which can be a special experience.

At Collective Content, we happily invite our clients to the chef’s table – and, if they want to, even for recipe development (content brainstorming) sessions.

Customers/Clients remember “how you made them feel”

Just as people use agencies for all kinds of reasons, people go to restaurants for family celebrations, dates, seeking out unique dishes and more.

While some things remain consistent, all those use cases are slightly different. What they have in common isn’t that they’re about eating. Ultimately, as The Bear makes clear, the experience is about making someone feel special or, at the very least, catered to properly.

And like the oft-cited Maya Angelou quotation, agencies will also win, not by just delivering what they’re supposed to deliver, but by how we leave our clients feeling.

Season 3 of The Bear is streaming on Disney+ from 27 June in the UK, on FX/Hulu in the US.